On January 30, Research In Motion is revealing the mobile operating system they should have revealed years ago. BlackBerry 10 is the OS that we’ve all been waiting for. Even if you aren’t a fan of BlackBerry-branded devices, it should still be exciting to see one of the biggest names in the mobile industry revealing a huge piece of new software. That’s what we’ve got coming down the pipe from RIM, and so when news hits the wire regarding the Waterloo-based company, it should revolve solely around the next big thing from the company. All eyes on BB10.
We certainly shouldn’t be talking about a phone that’s less appealing than what’s already available on the carrier it’s heading to.
But that’s what we got this morning with the announcement from RIM and T-Mobile USA that the carrier will be launching the BlackBerry Curve 9315 this month. At first, when I initially saw the report, I was thinking that it was just a rumor that would –hopefully—not pan out. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, and the phone does indeed launch on T-Mobile’s network beginning with a pre-launch January 16, and going full-bore on January 23.
Let’s just get the specifications out of the way, based on what we know of the device. According to the launch announcement, the BlackBerry 9315 will feature a 2.44-inch display, with a resolution of 320x240. There’s a built-in FM radio, a microSD card slot, and a 3.2MP rear-facing camera. The device will be running BlackBerry OS 7.1. The main selling point of the handset seems to be the dedicated, hardware BBM key located on the side of the BlackBerry 9315.
That would make sense. After all, we know that the OS isn’t going to be the main takeaway.
I agree with our very own Anna Scantlin: BlackBerry 10 should have some low-end devices (at some point inside a year of the initial launch), but we know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I understand that that’s why we’re still looking at BlackBerry 7.1 devices coming down the line. To be fair, I think BB10 should be focused on the high-end right out of the gate, so I can even get behind the company filling BlackBerry 7.1 requests for the foreseeable future. (If carriers are asking for them, then there’s no reason to stop making them.)
My issue is with the phone itself. My issue is with the pricing of the phone, the specs of the phone, and the simple fact that T-Mobile USA has a BlackBerry-branded device available right now with better specs, for the same price that T-Mobile plans on selling the “new” BlackBerry 9315. I’m speaking of the BlackBerry Curve 9360. It’s available right now, for $49.99 (after a $50 mail-in rebate, and other discounts), which is exactly what T-Mobile plans on selling the new Curve 9315 for. The Curve 9360 features a 5MP rear-facing camera, a 2GB microSD card in the package, and the screen real estate is the same between devices. Apparently, RIM and T-Mobile think that dedicated BBM key is pretty impressive.
It makes no sense. Sure, you can make the argument that phone prices here in the States don’t make sense already, and that’s an easy argument to make. They don’t. But this particular situation takes the cake. Are we looking at the discontinuation of the BlackBerry Curve 9360? Is T-Mobile really going to replace that phone with a lesser phone, and expect to charge the same price for it? Or, worse, is T-Mobile going to offer both at the same time, for the same price, and just act like it’s all well and good?
If RIM is going to launch more BlackBerry 7.1 devices here in the States, or anywhere really, they should be putting significant specs in them, and still charging a lower amount. In that case, maybe drop the Bold 9900 series, and leave the Curve namesake take the reins moving forward. And devices that are more like the Curve 9360, and not like the 9315. We all know you’re going to launch more BB7.1 devices, so make them worthwhile. Just releasing a phone to release it doesn’t help anyone.
The BlackBerry Curve 9315 is a waste of time. Not because it’s a BlackBerry 7.1 device, but because it’s a BlackBerry 7.1 device that features worse specifications than a pair of devices already available. It is only made worse by the confusing pricing point. But tell me, Dear Reader. Do you think that Research In Motion should stop selling BlackBerry 7.1 devices altogether? Should the focus be on BlackBerry 10 from here on out? Or do you think BB7.1 can fill that “lower-end” spectrum that BlackBerry 10 won’t fill for quite some time? Let me know!